When a person thinks of beautiful Cinematography in a film, your mind automatically drifts to the stunning works of Roger Deakins, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jeff Cronenweth, and many more. We all have the pre-conceived notion that the best and most well known cinematographers are those who have stunning visuals, but that shouldn't always be the case. Sometimes, some of the best cinematographers are those who are able to tell the audience exactly how a character is feeling and what they are thinking about through one single cut. This is the power of cinema, as it is a visual language that should be utilized to its fullest.
Another form of cinematography that most people overlook is it's importance in animated films. Many people believe that the final product that they see was achieved on the first try, but that is hardly the case. In fact, Patrick Lin, the cinematographer of Inside Out, has his own saying for cinematography in the world of 3D Animation. "In live-action the phrase is “Lights, camera, action,” in computer animation it is “all mixed up.” “It is actually ‘Camera, action, light’ — in other words, it is layout, animation, and then lighting.”
Although there are many differences between live action and computer animation, the camera and lenses is not one of them. In fact, Lin claims that their cameras operate the same exact way one in the real world would. This is accounted for by f-stop, focal length, and much more. Another aspect that remains unchanged is that Lin, as the DP, decides how he wants the look and feel of each scene to be like. He has the choice to vary the lighting, camera composition, and even camera movements as well. This is nearly identical to what a DP is responsible for in a live action film.
Something that I found especially interesting was Lin's deliberate use of when to switch back and forth between Tripod, Steadicam, and Handheld shots. When the main character (Riley) has her emotions under control and when everything is normal for her, Lin incorporates the use of all steadicam and tripod shots. Later on in the story, when things are spiraling out of control, Lin decided to use mostly handheld shots to show the audience that Riley is losing control of her situation. Interestingly enough, I found that David Fincher used the same exact technique in his movie, Se7en. Although he used this in a much more limited fashion in only the climax of the movie, this just goes to show that although many live action movies have terrific cinematography, many animated movies are doing the same. Just because they are from a different genre doesn't mean we can't learn from them.